Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Ten Strategies to Keep the Weight Off

Understanding what a healthy weight is keeping the weight off successfully Finding friends to cheer you on the hope that you've made some good progress with your weight-loss program and that you're eager not to lose ground. A weight maintenance program should be a priority after the initial six months of a weight-loss diet_ Weight maintenance isn't a matter of "going off your diet" - it's a matter of keeping your eating and activity habits up to a healthy standard.

In some ways, the strategies you need for maintenance are no different from those that you used to lose weight in the first place. But in other ways, the strategies are different. Maintenance means keeping at it forever. Stop, and you'll slide right back up to where you started - or worse yet, even higher.

Staying at a Healthy Weight

Diet Start

Notice I said a healthy weight - not a supermodel's or a movie star's weight. It's not even staying at the weight you were at in high school. A healthy weight is the weight that you can reasonably attain and maintain without going crazy. For example, most people would say that a 5-foot, 4-inch woman who has brought her weight down to 125 pounds has reached a healthy weight. But would you consider her weight healthy if you knew that she had to restrict her calorie intake so much that she couldn't relax around food for fear of losing control? That she had to exercise vigorously for at least two hours a day and sometimes more for fear of ballooning up to her old weight? That this lifestyle robbed her of time with her family and friends? And that maintaining her weight was the sole focus of her life? That's not healthy. That's neurotic.To maintain a healthy weight, you must maintain a healthy lifestyle - balancing your diet with exercise, stress reduction, and relationships in a healthy manner. As you work through your weight-loss plan and look forward to staying at your new, lower weight, consider the points in this chapter. They're the real measures of a healthy weight.

Being realistic

Assigning a number as your ideal weight, based on information from a height and weight chart, isn't really a healthy way to judge your progress. Although the charts do serve a useful purpose as guides to a healthy weight range, specifying a number as ideal connotes that any number higher than that isn't good enough. Establishing an ideal weight sets you up in pass/fail mode instead of giving you credit for progress made. Thinking of your weight in terms of what's reasonable for you is healthier.

Being adventurous

national weight controlChanging your attitude about yourself and your body may be the most beneficial step you can take. If your weight keeps you from enjoying activities, let the issue go. Have you ever said, "I'll go on vacation when 1'm 125 pounds again" or "I'll try water-skiing when I'm thinner" or "I'll go for a hike in the woods when I'm in better shape"? Don't wait until you reach your goalweight If you do, you're missing out on plenty of living. Don't miss out on life, because you're hiding behind your weight. You can try many activities no matter what your weight - in-line skating, ballroom dancing, ice skating, skiing, hiking, or biking, just to name a few.

Be adventurous with your eating as well as with your activities. Try a new fruit that you've never tasted. If you always eat bananas and apples but are so bored with them that you don't eat your recommended number of fruit servings, break out of your rut. Try a papaya or a kiwi. Reach for different grains, too. White long-grain rice is nice, but don't miss out on the short, medium, aromatic, and brown rice varieties. And then you have quinoa (pronounced keen-wa), barley, and cracked wheat. Experiment with recipes. Check out Chapter 28 for plenty of tasty, adventuresome ideas.

Being flexible

You need to be flexible about what you consider to be weight-loss success. You also need to be flexible about what you consider to be a successful dieting or exercise day. Sure, you need to set goals, but you also need to accept that some days you aren't going to make them. Adding a week's worth of healthy meals and exercise to another week and another and another - even if you don't meet your goal on a few days in between - is how you build success.

If you can't work in your normal walking route one day, try to stay active in other ways. For example, park your car in the parking space that's farthest from the door. Be sure to take the stairs rather than the elevator. Any kind of exercise counts. If you're stuck at a family party or business meal and every dish in sight is a caloric disaster, don't throw in the towel and overeat. Enjoy small amounts of the foods that are offered and then be especially diligent at the next meal or the next day.

Being sensible

"I'm never going to eat another pepperoni pizza again!" Doesn't that sound silly? Ban words like never and always from your eatingnational weight control and exercise plans. These ultimatums put you just bites away from failure. Better to have one small serving and enjoy every bit or share a serving with a friend or pack half of it in a doggie bag for another meal on another day.

Exercising a little every day is better than trying to make up for a missed day or week by overexerting yourself. Chances are, you won't enjoy the exercise as much if you're overdoing it, and you'll probably be so sore afterwards that you'll miss the next few days of activity as well. No pain, no gain isn't our motto. Take it slow and steady and enjoy yourself - that's what's most important.

Being active

Don't you just love folks who say things like "We won the baseball game," when they mean that the team they were rooting for on TV won? Or the people who say that they're going to walk the dog and then go outside and watch the dog walk around the yard while they stand in the driveway? These people are spectators, not participants.

We use many other expressions that make us sound active: "Mow the lawn" (or do we sit on the mower?); "wash the clothes" (or do we put them into the washing machine?); "shovel the snow" (or do we push the snow blower?); "run to the store" (or do we drive the car?) - you get the idea. These passive activities sound like actions, but they're really not.

If you're guilty of using more active language than actually being active, change your behavior. Look for ways - big and small - to fit activity into your day: Climb the stairs, hide the remote, don't use your kids as slaves to fetch things, walk during your lunch break instead of sitting, play ball instead of watching, walk to the school bus stop instead of driving to meet the kids. Park farther from the store instead of circling to find the closest spot, and toss the remote. Clip a pedometer to your belt and aim for 10,000 steps a day. See Chapter 12 for more on pedometers.

Getting Same Tips from Lasers

Many people lose weight, but most people don't keep it off. The number of people who regain lost weight after 5 years is as high as 95 percent. A depressing number, for sure, but don't let that statistic stop you from trying. That 95 percent figure only reflects the people who have been in weight-control studies and official programs, not the vast number of people who lose weight on their own and keep it off.

The National Weight Control Registry, a database maintained at the University of Colorado, has followed a group of people who had success losing weight by using a variety of methods. The requirement for inclusion in the registry is a 30-pounds-or-greater weight loss that's maintained for at least 1 year. But the actual numbers are far better. Of the 3,000 participants, the average weight loss is 60 pounds, which the participants have maintained for more than 6 years!

These people obviously can share ideas about taking weight off, but they have even more ideas about maintaining the loss. Interestingly, some of their advice flies in the face of conventional weight-loss wisdom - like weighing yourself on the scale every day. But the take-home message here is that the people have found certain strategies that work for them. What have youfound that works best for you? Keeping an exercise log or food diary? Exercising in the morning versus the evening? Planning meals for the week ahead of time? People who keep their weight off have their own personal tricks. The key to successful weight maintenance is to put them into practice.

Trying, trying, and trying again

national weight controlThe average woman goes on 15 diets in her lifetime and loses about 100 pounds. But she regains about 125! Experts call it yo-yo dieting or weight cycling. At one time, health authorities believed that each time a person's weight yo-yos, weight loss becomes more difficult in the future. The individual loses more muscle, needs fewer calories to maintain the weight, and becomes more frustrated. The bottom line seemed to be that you're better off not trying to lose weight and that going on repeated diets is dangerous.

One major study published in The Journal of the American Medical

Association 275(5), 1994, looked at 43 studies and found no convincing evidence that weight cycling in humans has adverse health effects on body composition, energy balance, risk factors for cardiovascular disease, or the success of future efforts at weight loss. Proof positive is the fact that 90 percent of the people in the National Weight Control Registry had tried to lose weight previously - in fact, each person had lost and regained an average of 270 pounds! Yet they were able to lose weight and keep it off, once and for all - even after years of yo-yo dieting.

Weighing in

When you're trying to maintain weight loss, monitoring your weight closely is the best approach. Successful maintainers are able to catch a 5- or 10-pound weight creep and take immediate action. Many people in the National Weight Control Registry say that they weigh themselves every day. During the weight-loss phase, weighing daily can be disappointing, so experts recommend that you get on the scale no more than once a week. But when you're in maintenance, you may find it helpful to more closely monitor the scale so that you can make adjustments to your eating plan before a 1- or 2-pound gain becomes the 5 pounds you just can't seem to lose.

During your maintenance phase, continue to weigh in, so to speak, on what you eat, too. Some successful maintainers continue to monitor what they eat by keeping food records. And they stick with a lowfat, low-calorie eating plan.

Solving problems

People who can keep their weight stable are good problem solders. They find ways to fit exercise into their schedules. They uncover techniques to eat lowfat foods. They work balance and moderation into their eating plans and exercise routines.


Physical activity is a key predictor of weight-loss maintenance success. (See Chapter 12 for more information about the importance of exercise.) Besides helping you to lose weight, regular physical activity is a super stress reducer (Less stress means less eating in response to stress.) You'll have more energy, not less. (Many people eat when they're dragging and feeling tired.) you walk with a friend(s), you'll have good quality time, too.

Don't try to make up for a slow day with an overly active one. But if you do go overboard with an activity that's too strenuous, still try to do something the next day, even if it means a slow walk. The important thing is to do so kind of exercise every day. That's how you make it a habit.

Getting support

You can't lose weight without support nor can you maintain your loss without help. Most successful weight losers are motivated by their own personal needs, but they do have support from friends, spouses, family, or a group of like-minded dieters. They can turn to these people for help with managing the stress in their lives, solving problems, and scheduling time for exercise by handing off household or child-care responsibilities. People who lend support also can serve as cheerleaders and provide attaboy (or attagirl) encouragement. Don't go it alone!

... andjoyohoxing